Hyundai has announced a $7.4 million new vehicle test center to be built on Germany's automotive widowmaker: the Nürburgring. The 10,000-square-foot test center will work in tandem with the company's R&D center in Rüsselsheim to address quality and driving performance of its latest European-designed models.
The Nürburgring may be famous as the most fearsome Grand Prix racetrack in the world – the same reputation that led Scottish racing driver Jackie Stewart to dub it “The Green Hell” – but the course was built with the original purpose of providing a test track for auto manufacturers. Over time, the lap times set on this 13-mile “Nordschleife” portion of the track, complete with 147 corners, would become an unofficial basis of comparison among high-performance vehicles of the day.
Hyundai has reported that the test center's location was chosen for its direct access to the world's most demanding racetrack.
"The new Hyundai test center at the Nurburgring is an expression of our intention to focus on improving the customer experience of our vehicles, such as ride and handling--an important consideration for European drivers," said Hyundai Motor Europe senior vice president and chief operating officer Allan Rushforth.
"The new center represents a significant investment, and one we expect will significantly contribute to enhancing the perception of the Hyundai brand and our key competitive competence in Europe."
Already, 95 percent of the 444,000 vehicles sold in Europe in 2012 were designed, engineered and tested in Russelsheim, including the i30, the ix35 and the i40.
This announcement comes following Hyundai's reentry into the World Rally Championship series this year, which should drive further improvements in driving dynamics, performance and durability. The grueling conditions of the Nürburgring, such as its variety of surfaces, steep banking, sharp turns, extreme weather and high elevation, in conjunction with the more rugged demands of rally racing may deliver the competitive edge Hyundai has been searching for.
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